By Ronald Gordon
Throughout my years of gaming, I’ve encountered many different story-driven games. Games such as Galactic Cafe’s The Stanley Parable have an overall narrative, directed at you which is explained in voice-over, which can easily be subverted and overwritten if the player sees fit, leaving the narrator to create a different story from the player’s actions. However, Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout, recently released for Xbox, is unusual in that the narrator tells the story to his sick grandson, and you have to listen in to understand what you have to do. Well there’s that, and the fact that the characters in the story are all mice and other rodents!
Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout is a fantasy adventure game developed and published by Soma Games, one game in what will be the six-episode Lost Legends of Redwall series. I was reminded that Lost Legends of Redwall originated as a series of books and only recently started its journey into the video game world. The Redwall novels were created by Brian Jacques between 1986 and 2011 and were adapted into an animated television series that ran from 1999 to 2002. There are nearly two dozen books! In The Scout episode, you play as a new recruit in the Scout Corps, which is a group of well-trained and fit protectors who seek to keep the peace within their region. Right after your initiation, you’re sent out into the field when a horrible band of rat pirates comes to pillage your home and wreck everything. It’s up to you to stop them.
Redwall: The Scout lets you choose to play as one of two young lovers, Liam oe Sophia. I chose Liam, an ambitious young lad with a kind heart who dreams of becoming a scout to make his family and his beloved Sophia proud. He’s not the type to bring other people down, as he’s always ready with a joke or quip to lighten the mood. He’s also quick-witted when he needs to be.
The story-telling aspect of the game is unique because you have an impact on how the narrative unfolds, but it’s always told as if that were the original story and not a secondary storyline. You can affect the outcome by choosing to help and save people, as a true scout would do, or opting to keep yourself alive rather than consider others, which will most likely doom them to be at the will of the rat pirates. You can pick outcomes that benefit you later by following more difficult paths, such as sneaking up behind the rats and pickpocketing them for items, or going the extra mile to find collectibles that could help you (but it’s at the cost of encountering more rats). Or you can keep to the simple and safe route with no added wins or losses.
For instance, in the first level of the game, where you have to relight an old lighthouse, you can choose to help a bunch of civilians who have locked themselves in their house to guard against the rat pirates, or you can ignore the civilians and continue on through a graveyard to your destination. The choice is yours to make, and the consequences are yours to bear.
The visual style of Redwall: The Scout is interesting because of how whimsical it feels. Most of the characters have life-like pictures reminiscent of illustrations in vintage story books. But unlike a the depth of most books, this feels a bit unfinished. It runs a bit slowly most of the time, and there are a couple of glitches and bugs here and there. Sometimes your character fails to show up after loading, or wouldn’t touch the ground, appearing to be forever falling after a messed up jump. Sometimes the enemy A.I. seems impossible to avoid. This makes the game feel more like an open beta rather than something fully fleshed out and polished. So I’d suggest biding your time until there are some updates or news about the game, rather than getting it right this instant. Knowing that there’s other media on Redwall aside from the game makes me excited, because it means I have something to check out while I wait for an update to be released.
Redwall: The Scout is a passable game, but it will take time and a bit more effort before it feels complete. There are still a few things to be patched and seeds to be sown, but I have hope that things will work out and that the Redwall series will earn its place in the gaming world. Redwall, the book series and the game, is definitely something for people who want a nice multi-part adventure with tons of lore relating to the heroes, villains, and places of interest alike. Going back to the 1980s, there are resources and materials to back it up and support it, if you’ve got the time, of course. This episode of Redwall the game needs a careful overhaul. I hope the next in the series is released when it’s finished so we can all fully enjoy the worlds of full of anthropomorphic animals with varied personalities.
Freshman intern Ronald Gordon is creating the City Tech College chapter of the New York Videogame Critics Circle.